As president and principal filmmaker of Burning Heart Productions, award-winning director Lauralee Farrer is the creative voice behind many short and long-form documentaries and narrative features. Her first personal documentary Laundry and Tosca (2004) investigates the life of soprano Marcia Whitehead, and explores the idea of whether simply following a dream can be enough to build a meaningful life. An event combining the film screening, Whitehead singing, and Farrer speaking was presented in the years following, and the film continues to be used in screenings and classrooms as a conversation pivot. Similarly, her feature documentary The Fair Trade (2008) has continued to have a rich life beyond normal festival and distribution including events with various combinations of film screenings, music, social activism awareness, and Farrer’s speaking. Her freshman feature narrative Not That Funny (2012) starring Tony Hale won numerous audience awards and was a festival favorite.
Much of the material from which her voice emerges is due to Farrer’s early writing and directing work for humanitarian organizations that took her, among other places, to Spain when Franco died, to Kenya during the droughts of 1981 and 1991, to Somalia when the war broke out, and to Uganda to write about early outbreaks of AIDS and the plight of its orphans. She wrote of the Sisters of Charity in Ethiopia, was in Moscow when the 1991 coup took place, and when Leningrad became St. Petersburg again. She was in East Germany before and after the wall went down, in Mexico City to write about cultures of poverty, and in U.S. cities like Philadelphia, Houston, Washington, D.C., Chicago, and Boston to write about American life. She lived in a Benedictine community in Denver, Colorado for three years—a providential experience that formed much of the basis for her current Praying the Hours project.
As writer/director Farrer completed production in 2014 on Praying the Hours, a 6-hour narrative project composed of eight 30-minute featurettes interlocking with a 2-hour drama. Under the Burning Heart Productions banner, she is in development on a suite of features on Auguste Rodin and the Burghers of Calais, a narrative non-fiction feature on Evangeline Booth, and several other narrative and documentary projects. An alumna of over 40 film festivals, Farrer continues to be a speaker, author, jurist, panelist, and moderator for festivals, conferences, colleges, and professional and private events. She was, between 2010 and 2014, artist in residence for the Brehm Center for Worship, Theology, and the Arts.
At Fuller Seminary—a graduate institution for the study of theology, psychology, and intercultural studies—she is corporate Storyteller and Chief Creative. This entails, among other things, editor-in-chief of the design-award-winning magazine FULLER, creative head of FULLER studio (an online content-delivery channel), and chief creative of all print, video, and online assets of the global corporation. As writer, editor, and filmmaker, her work includes supervising a staff of creatives and Fuller’s Story Bureau—a group of film, still photography, writing, design, and editing storytellers who fuel, among other things, Fuller’s unique Story Table endeavor. A prestigious graduate institution at nearly 70 years old, Fuller has over 4,000 students from 90 countries and 41,000 alumni around the world.